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Developers get OK from Wabash Plan Commission for downtown condo

May 22nd, 2019

By Joseph Slacian | The Paper of Wabash County

A pair of Wabash business owners received permission Wednesday, May 1, to split their downtown building into two parcels to sell one parcel as a condominium.

Kathleen Alspaugh and Dave Vandermark, owners of Duffey Enterprises, had their request unanimously approved by the Wabash Plan Commission.

The pair sought an exclusion from the city’s subdivision ordinance to allow them the sell the upper floor of the building at 27 W. Canal St. as a condo. The move, in essence, split the building horizontally, leaving Alspaugh and Vandermark as owners of the ground level building. They hope to find a retail business to fill the spot.

Greg Metz, who is working with Alspaugh and Vandermark, told the commission the reason the measure was brought to light was because they had a party interested in purchasing the upper level to be used as a condo.

“They do have a party interested in purchasing the second floor,” Metz said. “As opposed to being a tenant-landlord type of situation, this person wanted to own. It really was a perfect fit because this building, in particular, there’s really only room for one unit upstairs.

“We’re not looking for any building change here, it’s strictly a split.”

Commission attorney Doug Lehman noted that if the building is split, an agreement between the two owners related to common interests in the building would be needed between the two parties. Those common interests are such things as the roof, façade maintenance and the basement.

Duffey Enterprises owns five buildings on West Canal Street, starting with the Bradley Building and the next four buildings to the west.

“This is what we were planning to do,” Vandermark said, responding to a board member’s question on how the potential buyer was contacted. “This person got wind of this information and approached us directly.

“We’re actually trying to put responsible owners in place, and not about of rentals and tenants and issues, so that we do have associations in place that take care of the maintenances of those buildings and the roofs.”

He said the company is putting on new roofs, new brick and new windows on all five buildings.

“So when we turn them over, they’re brand new buildings,” he said. “New places to live … new old buildings.”

He added that the buildings will all include places to park cars, noting, “we don’t want them on the street.”

The vote almost didn’t happen Wednesday night. Three members of the Plan Commission – Todd Titus, Karl Rider and Bill Barrows – were absent. When a full board is present, petitioners must convince a majority of the nine-member board – five people – to vote in favor of their request. With three people absent, the petitioners had to convince five of the six voting members to vote in their favor.

To further complicate the matter, Commission president Mary Kramer recused herself from the vote, noting that she is related to Alspaugh.

Alspaugh and Vandermark had to make a decision to delay the vote by a month or to go ahead with a vote and risk having two members vote against the measure. If that happened, they would have to wait one year to present the measure again to the Plan Commission.

Before they reached a decision, Commission attorney Doug Lehman asked members if they had any concerns about the matter and, if so, to speak up to see if they could have their concerns answered. None did.

The commission unanimously approved the request.